Butterfly Metamorphosis: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rayna Cummings

Rayna has taught Elementary Education for 12 years (in both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) and holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University

Butterflies have an amazing life cycle that includes two totally different organisms. In this lesson, you will learn about the life cycle of a butterfly, and how it involves complete metamorphosis.

Growing Up

I want you to remember what it was like when you were a baby. What are some things you can think of? Do you remember your first word or your first favorite toy? You were completely different when you were a baby than you are now - you are going through a life cycle.

A life cycle is the changes in life an organism, like you, goes through. You were a baby, then a toddler, now you are a school age kid. You will continue your life cycle through teenager, adulthood, and last a senior adult (like your grandparents). Did you know many things go through life cycles? Some organisms, or living beings, even start out as one thing as a baby, then turn into a totally different organism in adulthood. Can you think of any organisms that can do that?


If you thought of a butterfly, you were right! Butterflies go through a special life cycle called metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is where a living thing changes form from one thing into a completely different thing by adulthood. Butterflies goes through complete metamorphosis during the four stages of their life cycle. The average life span of a butterfly is only about a month.

Egg - 1st Stage

Just like you were a tiny egg in your mom's belly, a butterfly begins its life as an egg. The egg can be different shapes, such as round, oval, or cylindrical, depending on the type of butterfly. If you want to find some butterfly eggs, you will need to look on leaves of plants. That's where butterflies lay their eggs.

Example of butterfly eggs on a leaf
butterfly eggs

Caterpillar - 2nd Stage

Butterflies actually begin their lives as caterpillars first, before they turn into butterflies. These caterpillars are actually known as butterfly larvae. During this stage, the main thing the caterpillars do is eat. They eat and eat and eat to grow bigger fast. But the caterpillars' skin does not grow, so they have to molt, or shed their skin, several times to be able to grow bigger.

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